Friday, December 2, 2016

Democrats Risk Irrelevance If They Don't Change Their Ways

At U.S. News and World Report, "The Problems With the Left: Democrats risk becoming irrelevant if they don't change their ways":
Democrats have a policy problem too: the left's disconnect with voters on issues that matter is profound. For example, President Obama gave a cover-story interview to Rolling Stone magazine that came out this week on his legacy and the "path forward." Apparently the leader of the Democratic Party didn't think the "path forward" needed to include any discussion of defeating the Islamic State group, a strong national defense or reducing the burden of $20 trillion of national debt on young people. In fact, if you look at Pew Research's list of issues that the majority of voters described the day after the election as "very big problems," almost none of them – terrorism and crime, for starters – are mentioned by him.

On immigration, Obama did admit this: "It's going to be important for Democrats and immigration-rights activists to recognize that for the majority of the American people, borders mean something." For most Americans, Obama talking about border security is a day late and a dollar short. He defended the administration's "big-heartedness" when it came to immigration policy, but added that "we tend to dismiss people's concerns about making sure that immigration is lawful and orderly." What an understatement. Democrats paid dearly on Election Day for that tendency to be dismissive of people's concerns.

Exhibit 2 of the disconnect: "When I turn over the keys to the federal government to the next president of the United States, I can say without any equivocation that the country is a lot better off: The economy is stronger, the federal government works better and our standing in the world is higher," Obama said. But, polls show the American people feel the opposite. During the interview, Obama mentioned the Koch brothers and Fox News more than he mentioned race relations, tax reform or rebuilding infrastructure. At least he didn't get into access to bathrooms or gun control.

Instead, he engaged in long discussions of climate change and legalization of marijuana – Exhibits 3 and 4 – with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. I had broken my self-imposed boycott of Rolling Stone to read the interview – as a UVA graduate, I'm still disgusted at the way the magazine promoted the completely false story of a gang rape at the school. So don't get me started on Obama's praise for Rolling Stone's "great work."

Exhibit 5. Democrats should be grateful for Tim Ryan's wake-up call this week. Whether it's candidate recruitment across the United States, new leadership in Washington, or a pivot to issues that really matter to voters, the Democrats have a lot of work to do. If they don't start to change – and fast – they risk going beyond disconnected to irrelevant and insignificant.